It's no secret that I like big knives, especially folders. While I can get by with small/medium sized folders, I'd take a larger folder over a smaller one if I were out in the boonies, and all I had was a folding knife instead of a fixed blade knife. I still remember when Kershaw Knives started their newest division known as Zero Tolerance (ZT) and their goal was, and is to produce folding and fixed blade knives meant for serious military and law enforcement use - knives that can take a real beating and keep on going. If you're in a profession, such as law enforcement or the military, you can't afford to have your knife fail - period! With that goal in mind, Zero Tolerance Knives was started. They don't have a huge line-up of of fixed blade or folders, however, they have a little something for everyone, from medium size and large size folders, to a boot knife, fixed blade knives and even the stoutest bayonet you'll ever run across - their ZT-9. You may even seen the ZT0301 folder featured on the popular television show, NCIS - it's the knife that Special Agent Gibbs carries - and one of his rules is to always have a knife with you - I concur!
For this article, I selected the ZT0560 for review, and this is one super-sweet folder. A quick run-down on the specs is: Made in the USA - which I like, KVT ball bearings, Titanium frame lock, with quad-screw mounting for blade up or blade down carry on both sides of the handles, steel is Elmas, the handle is 3-D machined G-10 on the front, and 3-D machined on the Titanium back, blade length is 3.75-inches - which I believe is the perfect length, and the weight is only 5.8-ounces.
The blade material is Elmax, a stonewashed, powdered steel, and I've got to admit that, when powdered steels first came out in knives, I wasn't too sure just how strong this steel would be, as compared to forged or blanked steel blades. Needless to say, powdered steels a super-tough, much stronger than I thought they would be, and they hold an edge a really long time, too. The Elmax blade is not only strong, it is also highly corrosion resistant, too - not two properties you usually associate with many knife steels. I also like the stonewashed finish on the blade, makes in non-reflective and I just think it looks cool, too.
The KVT ball bearings - they are mounted in the frame, and the blade rolls out like it is mounted in soft butter - without a doubt, the smoothest opening folder I've ever run across to date. There is also a "flipper" on the back of the blade, in addition to thumb studs for opening the blade. Once you use the flipper, you'll forget all about thumb studs, the flipper is fast - very fast opening, you simply apply a little bit of pressure against the flipper and the blade easily opens, it is so smooth, you'll think the blade is an assisted-opener, I kid you not.
As you point the knife to the left, the handle material is the 3-D machined G-10, and on the reverse is the Titanium handle scale, that also serves as the framelock, giving this folder a very strong lock-up. And, its not easy mating the frame scale to lock-up to the blade, if I recall, custom knife maker, Chris Reeve, is the pioneer in this manner of locking-up a folder. When done right, it's a great set-up, when done wrong, the blade has a lot of slop to it and never locks-up properly - the ZT 0560 is done right, no doubt about it.
On the quad-mounting of the deep carry pocket/clothing clip, not many folders made today allow you to carry it with the tip up or down, and for right or left hand/pocket carry - this is rare for a knife to offer all this. And, the deep carry pocket/clothing clip really allows the knife to sit deep in your pocket - nothing is showing other than the pocket clip in your pants pocket, yet the knife is easy to draw and open as well. There is also a nicely configured lanyard hole on the top back of the knife - but no lanyard is included - which ZT would offer this.
I really like the way the ZT0560 felt in my hand - it's one of those folders that feels like it was custom made just for my hand - yet many others who examined this knife thought it was custom made for their hands as well - they did a great job on designing this folder, no doubt about it. There are also friction grooves on the top of the handle and back of the blade, as well as friction grooves on the bottom of the handle - and they are nicely done - not too sharp and not to dull - they afford a great hold on the knife in all weather conditions.
Over the course of several weeks, I used the ZT0560 for a number of tasks around the homestead, and did all manner of cutting. And, one of the tests I like to use is chopping blackberry vines, they are tough as tough can be, and many knives simply slide off these vines without doing any cutting at all. The ZT0560 easily chopped blackberry vines down with a single chopping motion - I was impressed. And, the Elmax blade cleaned-up easily, too!
You know, I wish I could report something negative about the Zero Tolerance ZT0560 folder, but try as I might, I couldn't find anything in this folder that I didn't like. Even the manager at the local gun shop I haunt, Fast Cash LLC, in Lebanon, OR - loved this knife and he is highly critical of most knives I show him. The ZT0560 is done to perfection - not a single manufacturing flaw could be found, no matter how hard I looked. This knife is better made than many custom knives, costing two or three times as much, if not more. I don't see this knife failing you under the harshest of conditions - it is a great folder for wilderness or urban survival if you ask me.
Quality never comes cheap, yeah, you can purchase a lesser knife, but you can't purchase better quality than I found in the ZT0560. Now quality materials and workmanship make it a bit spendy - the ZT0560 retails for $325. Is it worth it? You'd better believe it! I've owned quite a few custom knives over the years, but not many came close to the quality of this folder - and they couldn't even come close to the retail price of this knife.
Be advised, if you happen to pick-up a ZT0560 folder, you won't be able to put it down, except to reach for your wallet or credit card. You will be totally impressed with how smooth this knife opens - nothing comes close to it in smoothness. If you're in the market for a classy, yet super-strong folding knife, that is one of the best on the market, then look no further - the ZT0560 is what you're looking for. Drop a hint to your spouse or kids, that this is what you want for your birthday or CHRISTmas - it will bring a smile to your face, and you'll have a folder that can handle all your cutting chores and one you will be extremely proud to show to your friends - just don't let them walk off with it!